I have a great fondness for Renaissance Faire. For one thing, it’s where I met Mr. Twistie. It’s where I first discovered the Reduced Shakespeare Company (one of the founders of which was someone I knew but was not in close contact with) when their act consisted of their two-man Romeo and Juliet. It’s a place to dress up and do some play acting. I even spent a summer demonstrating bobbin lace for the masses at a Renaissance Faire. Good times, good times.
I’ve been to a lot of Renaissance Faires over the years, but there’s one thing that I’ve found consistently to be true: it’s a lot more fun if you go in period garb. People assume you’re a part of the show, and the odd vendor has been known to give me a worker’s discount without asking if I’d earned it. Mind you, when asked I always told the truth… but if they just assumed, well, I usually didn’t bother to disabuse them. After all, I didn’t want them to have to rework their calculations.
If you decide to go in garb, there’s no point in doing it halfway or just plain all wrong (like the gentleman who used to show up every year dressed as Abraham Lincoln, for reasons passing understanding). That means you’ll need to do some research.
Darlings, have I got a source of sources for you! Hie thee hence to The Costumer’s Manifesto and check out their page of Renaissance resources. Here you’ll find articles about various styles and forms of clothing worn in the sixteenth century, dye recipes, blackwork embroidery patterns, sources of patterns and of finished garb. You can even find links to period recipes, in case you want to make sure your party dines in accurate Elizabethan style.
Remember, if you’re going to make a new costume for Faire, chances are you’ll need to start soon! Good garb takes time.